TYAC funds research to help young people with skin cancer

Teenagers and Young Adults with Cancer (TYAC) is proud to announce it has funded two brand-new research projects that will answer questions important to teenagers and young adults with cancer.

Cancer in teenagers and young adults is very different to either childhood or adult cancer, which means specific research is needed for this age group. TYAC is leading on building a new focus on research dedicated to improving young people’s treatment and care. 

The first of TYAC’s inaugural projects will be looking at melanoma (skin cancer), in teenagers and young adults.

Skin cancer is the third most common cancer in teenagers and young adults in the United Kingdom (UK), with 211 patients diagnosed in the UK last year. Skin cancer treatments can cause scarring and often affect a young patient’s mental health and social connections.

Family support plays a huge role in a teenager or young adult’s cancer journey. However, there isn’t much research that takes this into account whilst looking at young people’s experiences of skin cancer.

Dr Wendy McInally from the Open University is leading the new project, titled ‘Young lives interrupted by melanoma: Exploring the experiences within a relational context’, which will start in September.

Young people aged 16 to 26 who are living with skin cancer will be interviewed, followed by focus groups with their families, to understand their experiences during and after treatment.

Dr McInally, who has 30 years’ experience in teenage and young adult cancer as a nurse, academic and researcher, said:

“Cancer diagnosis during adolescence profoundly alters this experience for teenagers, young adults and their families with effects that continue throughout their lives.

“Understanding how patients and their families experience the emotional impacts of living with cancer and hospital’s communication during diagnosis are key to improving the teenage and young adult cancer service.”

Dr McInally hopes that this research will help improve the teenage and young adult cancer service and create educational resources specific to melanoma to support young people, their families and healthcare professionals.

She added:

“Every penny of this grant will be spent to improve care for young people and their families affected by skin cancer.”

Ashley Ball-Gamble, CEO said:

“Funding specific teenage and young adult cancer research was a key objective of our strategic plan for TYAC, so it is fantastic to get to the point of funding our first projects focused on this age group.

“We’re determined to do more for this age group, which is underrepresented in research. We hope that this project is the first of many which begin to bridge gaps between children’s and adults’ cancers.”

Read more about this project here.